September 6, 2005

Acupuncturists Without Borders: Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

By Editorial Staff

Acupuncture Today has received the following press release on the efforts of Acupuncturists Without Borders to create a relief effort for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. For more information, readers are encouraged to contact Diana Fried, the project's director, at the e-mail address below.

We are a team of acupuncturists from around the country are setting up a program to work with people suffering from the devastating psychological (among other) effects of Hurricane Katrina. This group is devoted to using acupuncture and the NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) protocol for treating trauma from disasters and conflict. 

During the month of September, we will be raising funds, organizing logistics, and putting together teams of acupuncturists who can go to Houston or other areas. We will implement the program on the ground as soon as feasible.

We will be recruiting acupuncturists who are interested in participating in this effort, and we will be requesting that acupuncture college clinics and acupuncture and Oriental medicine related organizations set up fundraising drives to support this effort.

The things we need most are individuals who can commit some time to doing acupuncture relief, and the funds to support this effort.

Contributions can be made through the AOM Alliance by sending checks to:

6405 43rd Ave Ct NW
Suite A
Gig Harbor, WA 98335

Please write "Hurricane Relief" somewhere on your check or envelope. You may also make a credit card donation by phone by calling 253-851-6896. You may e-mail the Alliance at

If you are interested in participating in any way, please call Diana Fried at 505-417-0152 or e-mail her at .  


  1. If people are NADA trainers, they can automatically join our group. If they are NADA certified, or are acupuncturists without NADA training, we will have a screening process that will consist of a one-page written proposal we will request with specific questions (pending approval by the state licensing board). Our main objective will be to find people who can cope with the difficult situations, and the trauma we will face.

  2. Our program will initially be based in Houston. Our expectation is that there will be a call to send teams to other areas where refugees are located.

  3. We will be setting up a base in Houston. Riverside Hospital is considering our proposal to use their facility as a home base. We will also be contacting the acupuncture school in Houston as a possible location as well. From there, we will go to the Astrodome or to other locations where we can serve people directly. We will attempt to have teams working all day long.

  4. We will treat refugees and others working on the relief effort, including trauma service workers, doctors, nurses, city officials, aid workers, etc.

  5. We will have a Web page set up to cover our activities.

  6. Our goal is that team members will stay for a minimum of one week, and preferably two weeks or longer. Ideally, we will have five team members on the ground at all times.

  7. We will have a supervising team member available at all times.

  8. We will attempt to raise enough money so that we can cover expenses for all team members, minimally, and ideally pay for time as well.  We will ask for one week of volunteer time in all cases. We will propose that those who are in a position to cover their own time and expenses do so.

  9. We will use research tools to measure the success of our work. This will consist of an initial post-traumatic stress disorder instrument, and we will attempt follow up with the same individuals. Nityamo Lian, who works in acupuncture research and recently completed a NIH-funded grant that studied acupuncture diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, will head the research effort and will supervise the collection of material.

  10. We will be working with state licensing boards to get approval for acupuncturists from around the country to do this work temporarily.

  11. We are working with national acupuncture associations and will be contacting all state associations. 

Survivors of traumatic events report acu detox (using the NADA protocol) to be useful in alleviating symptoms of acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Trauma and post-traumatic stress can cause people to dissociate and act out in ways they would never otherwise do.  The NADA treatments are a powerful way to bring people back to themselves at a deep level. NADA treatments have the potential to transform situations from a level of crisis to a level that is manageable.

Why Use Acu Detox After Traumatic Events?

It is very effective: The effects are cumulative, meaning the more you receive it, the longer treatments last, and the less you need it. 

It is very simple: No side-effects.

It is very flexible: It can be done anywhere with no special facilities/equipment.  It can be easily integrated into a wide range of settings, including hospitals, clinical practices, outdoor clinics in developing countries or in natural disaster situations, while people are waiting for other services.

It is very economical: Treatments cost .30 cents or less per person. 

It is very accessible: Immediate "treatment on demand" without lengthy intake or wait.  Neither does the client have to wait to feel its impact, as relaxation generally occurs within minutes. Placing needles just in the ear, recipients can easily receive a treatment fully dressed (e.g., on-scene emergency workers who need a break).

It can be used on all those who may be involved in a traumatic incident: 

  • the victims
  • the mental health staff 
  • the police and emergency personnel attending to incident
  • each other (acu detox specialists)

It is a "non-verbal" treatment. Inability to be verbal is not an obstacle to getting help. This means that it is especially useful for:

  • those who may not be receptive initially to verbal counseling due to wanting to avoid the stigma of mental illness
  • those not able to communicate verbally due to feeling numb
  • those who don't speak the dominant language well, are deaf, mentally retarded, or unfamiliar with cultural norm.
  • those not able to communicate verbally due to being emotionally overwhelmed

Bessel Van der Kolk showed through MRI that the frontal lobes of the brain can shut down in emotional overload when people get close to their trauma -- the limbic/emotional areas light up and the Broca's/speech area shuts down, blocking verbal access and ability.

Those who might not seek out treatment for acute stress disorder, may be willing to have acupuncture. Done in groups, it can help break the isolation often felt after traumatic events. Creating resiliency may depend on a positive group interaction.

Core Team Bios

Diana Fried, Diplomate in Acupuncture (NCCAOM), has many years of experience and training in emotional/trauma healing work, along with years of work in international grassroots community development, including travel and work in Central America and Africa.  She graduated from the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (1999), and is trained in acupuncture detox work by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA). She is a writer and media consultant.

Laura Cooley is a licensed acupuncturist and registered National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) trainer.  She is nationally certified and holds licenses in Vermont and Texas. Laura served as Volunteer Director of Acupuncture Services for the Austin HIV Wellness Center for 9 years.  She has trained over 600 health care professionals in the use of acu detox. She supervises programs that use this tool in drug treatment programs, jails, hospital settings, homeless and HIV outreach programs for the purposes of drug treatment, alleviation of trauma symptoms, and stress relief.  Currently, Laura is making a video to document the usefulness of acupuncture in emergency/disaster situations and creating a training manual for treating trauma with ear acupuncture.

Wendy Henry, a graduate of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and a licensed acupuncturist in New York, has been instrumental in coordinating acupuncture and wellness programs for trauma survivors, firefighters, search and rescue workers, and individuals affected by 9/11.  She works for the Fire Department of New York in addition to her private practice.

Dard Muhammad is a licensed acupuncturist in Texas. He has been doing acupuncture detox work since 1992. He has done treatments at the Corrections Center and now works with substance abuse at Riverside Hospital. He is a registered NADA trainer.

Cynthia Neipris is licensed as an acupuncturist in New York and California, with certification from the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association as an acu detox specialist.  She is the Outreach and Community Education Coordinator for the New York campus of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, one of the largest and most well-respected acupuncture and Oriental medicine colleges in the nation. She previously served as Assistant Academic Dean at YoSan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Nityamo Lian is a doctor of Oriental medicine in New Mexico. She is nationally certified in acupuncture and Chinese herbology. She works in acupuncture research and recently completed a NIH-funded grant that studied acupuncture diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Lian is active in promoting acupuncture's use in public health settings. She started a low-income, public health pain clinic, and she volunteers at Healthcare for the Homeless, performing acupuncture detoxification for substance users.


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